High winds and heavy rains brought a mysterious sea creature with fangs and no face up on the shoreline in southwest Texas – giving the Internet a challenging task: to identify it.
Preeti Desai, social media manager at the National Audubon Society, posted pictures of the critter earlier this month on Twitter, asking, “What the heck is this??”
Desai, who said she had accompanied conservationists assessing the damage from the storm, spotted the creature on a beach in Texas City, about 15 miles from Galveston.
The Internet gave its best guesses:
A gulper eel.
A “bloated” moray eel.
No, an alien.
“I follow a lot of scientists and researchers,” Desai told BBC News about her plea for answers on social media. “There’s such a great community of these folks that are very helpful, especially when it comes to answering questions about the world or identifying animals and plants.”
She said someone suggested that she contact Kenneth Tighe, a biologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Tighe, an eel expert, told Earth Touch News that the creature was most likely a fangtooth snake-eel, or Aplatophis chauliodus.
Fangtooth snake-eels live in burrows 100 to 300 feet down in waters stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to French Guiana, “with only snout and eyes exposed, darting to feed on other fishes and crustaceans,” according to FishBase, an online database for fish species.
Other possibilities? Bathyuroconger vicinus or Xenomystax congroides.